China Accuses U.S. Warship for Illegal Passage through South China Sea

China claims U.S. destroyer had illegally entered its territorial waters in the South China Sea, sailing near disputed Beijing-controlled islands, after which it was expelled by its forces, Reuters reports.

Chinese military’s Southern Theatre Command said the USS Curtis Wilbur entered Chinese waters near the Paracel islands without permission. The statement adds China’s ships and planes followed the U.S. vessel and expelled it, an assertion the United States denied.

Tian Junli, spokesperson of the PLA’s Southern Theater Command, noted that US behavior violates international law and basic norms of international relations, increases regional security risks, and is prone to misunderstandings, misjudgments, and accidents at sea.

The statement added that China opposed the U.S. action, which, allegedly, violated its sovereignty and undermined regional peace and stability.

US Navy described the passage of USS Curtis Wilbur as routine Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) aiming to assert navigational rights and freedoms in accordance with international law.

The U.S. refuses to recognize China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, one of many flashpoints in the testy relationship between China and the United States, and regularly conducts the so called freedom of navigation operations to assert its right to sail in international waters.

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